«GROM Kaskad». Who Fights against Ukraine in the First Russian Drone Brigade

Collage: investigator.org.ua

The first Russian drone brigade «GROM «Kaskad» has been created in October 2023 and subordinated to the Russian Aerospace Forces. It has been initiated by Dmitrii Sablin, member of the Russian State Duma. He joined Russian Army on the first day of Russian invasion into Ukraine. He is reported as the commander of the brigade.

According to Sablin, today his brigade includes 54 drone crews, fighting along the whole Russian-Ukrainian frontline, with 10 types of reconnaissance and attack drones (Zala, Lancet, Orlan, supercams etc.). «Kaskad» is filled with Russian parliamentarians and senior public officials. It pretends that it hit several thousand units of Ukrainian armored vehicles.

The Center of Journalist Investigations identitied commanders of the brigade as well as volunteers from «youth wings» of «Combat brotherhood» and «United Russia» who participated in the deportation of Mariupol residents to Russian and then joined «Kaskad».

The Center looked for and verified results of the work of «Kaskad», including its strikes on Ukrainian civilian objects. 

First, let us look at the biography of Dmitrii Vadimovich Sablin, Russian ultra-patriot, Orthodox oligarch, likely supported by the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

Dmitrii Sablin has Ukrainian roots – he was born in Mariupol in 1968. He loves very much to tell about his «native Mariupol». Sablin believes that Sevastopol is also his «native city» because his father was born there. Sablin succeeded in privatizing a lot of business assets in Sevastopol through dubious deals with Ukrainian corrupted public officials.  

Яхт-клуб і отель компанії Сабліна на набережній Балаклави з незаконно привласненими причалами ВМС України. Фото: rota-group.ru

Yachting club and hotel of Sablin’s company at the waterfront of Balaclava, with illegally privatized piers of the Ukrainian Navy. Photo: rota-group.ru

After his graduation from Moscow High Army Command School, Sablin has served in the regiment of Moscow Military District for eight years. He also studied in the Academy of the Russian General Staff. Then, he has worked in the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, headed by Sergei Shoigu, for three years.

In 1998, Dmitrii Sablin became the president of union of companies «Grupa R». It included private companies and non-profits of veterans of law enforcement bodies and participants of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and Russian war in Chechnya.

In 2000, Sablin was appointed as the First Deputy Head of veterans’ non-profit «Combat brotherhood». It is headed by Russian General Boris Gromov who commanded the withdrawal of the 40th Soviet Army from Afghanistan.

Since 2000 Sablin has actively developed his business in Moscow oblast under the support of Boris Gromov appointed as the Governor of Moscow oblast the same year. Gromov gave land permissions and Sablin built luxury houses near Moscow.

Зліва направо: Дмітрій Саблін, депутат Держдуми, Вячеслав Володін, голова Держдуми, Боріс Громов, голова “Боевого братства”, 2024 р. Фото: duma.gov.ru

From left to right: Dmitrii Sablin, member of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, the Head of Russian State Duma, Boris Gromov, the Head of «Combat Brotherhood», 2024. Photo: duma.gov.ru

As any corrupted Russian ultra-patriot, Dmitrii Sablin loves to demonstrate that he is Orthodox believer. His super-yacht is packed with Orthodox icons.

Ukraine and Western countries imposed sanctions on Sablin for his participation in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. In 2014, he made an Orthodox tour around Crimea, with another Russian Orthodox oligarch Malofeev. He negotiated with local politicians the Russian annexation of Crimea.

As one of leaders of «Combat brotherhood», Sablin cooperated with Ukrainian veterans’ non-profits and created their pro-Russian network. As member of the Russian State Duma from Putin’s political party «United Russia», he cooperated with pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions, in particular, in Crimea.

In January 2015, Russian Senator Dmitrii Sablin, leader of bikers «Night wolves» Aleksandr Zaldostanov, Russian writer and сhauvinist Nikolai Starikov and other Russian ultra-patriots created movement «AntiMaidan», supported by Russian intelligence services.

In October 2022, retired Colonel Dmitrii Sablin voluntary signed contract with the Russian Armed Forces and headed volunteer drone unit called «Kaskad». The name reminds Soviet musical band called «Kaskad». Its repertoire focused on songs of Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan.

However, a few people know about intelligence unit of Soviet KGB with name «Kaskad», created in 1980 for special operations in Afghanistan. The band borrowed the name of this unit.

The first word in «GROM «Kaskad» is clear reference to General Gromov, the cult figure for many participants of Soviet invasion into Afghanistan.

We should make further clarification about the name. In fact, there are two Russian units «Kaskad», directly involved into the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In 2017, Donetsk policemen-collaborators created «operative combat tactical unit «Kaskad». It assaulted Mariupol, captivated soldiers of Ukrainian regiment «Azov» and conducted fierce filtration measures on checkpoints.

Зрадник Олександр Дикий, командувач “ОБТФ “Каскад” і логотип незаконного збройного формування Фото:dnr-news.ru 2023

Traitor Oleksandr Dyky, commander of OBTF «Kaskad» and logo of illegal military unit. Photo: dnr-news.ru 2023

The commander of this «Kaskad» is traitor Oleksii Dyky, «Minister of Internal Affairs» of «Donetsk People’s Republic». This «Kaskad» has its own drone unit but it has nothing to do with «GROM «Kaskad». Two «Kaskads» sometimes cooperate near Donetsk and Sablin calls it «namesake».

Structure and results of «GROM «Kaskad»

In March 2023, Russian telegram channel “ВЧК-ОГПУ» published information about permanent location of members of the Russian State Duma in the area of «special military operation» and exerpts from orders of the commander of Russian military unit # 22179, located in the village of Persianovo in Krasnodarsky krai. The unit has been responsible for legalizing Russian volunteer units, fighting against Ukraine, through the system of the Russian Ministry of Defence called «BARS».

Telegram channel published the Order of the Russian General Staff from 11.10.2022 about creation of voluntary group «BARS-Kaskad». Its personnel reached 100 people. Twenty persons were officers. Colonel Dmitrii Vadimovich Sablin has been indicated as its commander.

As Sablin revealed, his future drone brigade started with six volunteers from «Combat brotherhood».

«We have worked as an intelligence group of «Combat brotherhood» during the first half a year. When we showed our results, the Ministry of Defence and Administration of the President decided to create group «Kaskad» on the basis of our unit», as told Sablin to Russian war propagandist Semyon Pegov (WarGonzo). 

He reported that «intelligence unit worked on all territories of special military operation: from Luhansk to Kherson».

Дмітрій Саблін (в центрі), командири розрахунків і бійці бригади “ГРОМ “Каскад”, 2023 рік Фото: соцмережі

Dmitrii Sablin (center), commanders of drone crew and soldiers of «GROM» Kaskad» brigade, 2023. Photo: social media

Russian Senator Andrei Turchak, a Secretary of the General Council of Putin’s political party «United Russia», has supervised «Kaskad» and often called it «our unit». When he visited the 76th division of Russian paratroopers, he was told that division destroyed over 50 pieces of Ukrainian artillery during two months. He mentioned that «we planned to increase number of «our 12 crews» and cover Kherson area.

In the summer of 2023, crews of «Kaskad» have been active near Tokmak and Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia region. They opposed counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

In September 2023, it has been decided to create drone brigade «GROM «Kaskad». It was reported by Oleg Kolesnikov, member of the Russian State Duma from Chelyabinsk oblast. He has fought within «Kaskad» since autumn 2022 and waited for Putin’s permission to prolong his contract. He told that brigade would be subordinated to the Russian Aerospace Forces and would start its activity from Octover 1, 2023. He would be appointed as the commander of the 2nd battalion.

Preparation of drone by the crew of intelligence unit of «Kaskad». Photo: telegram channel Sergei Sokol

In December 2022, Vladimir Putin awarded Dmitrii Sablin as commander of BARS «Kaskad» with the Order of Courage. The first official report about «Kaskad» by the Russian Ministry of Defence appeared on March 22, 2024, i.e. half a year after its creation. Minister Sergei Shoigu sent greeting telegrams to five Russian military units for their achievements in so-called «special military operation». «GROM Kaskad» has been listed among them. It was reported that units of «GROM Kaskad» destroyed 1200 and suppressed over 1500 targets».

At the beginning of March 2024, Ukrainian military analyst Kostyantyn Mashovets reported that Russian occupants deployed up to forty drone crews of «Grom «Kaskad» in Ukraine. The brigade has been set up on the basis of BARS «Kaskad» and the 55th separate helicopter regiment, part of the 4th Army of the Russian Air Forces and air defense of the Russian Southern Military District.

According to Mashovets, the brigade included two battalions of reconnaissance and attack drones, one squadron of reconnaissance drones and supplying company. As of February 2024, over 820 Russian soldiers served in the brigade.

In March 2024, Dmitrii Sablin reported that the brigade included 54 crews. Number of units increased and area of their activity expanded.

«Our brigade is fully staffed. It has two reconnaissance attack battalions, two reconnaissance attack squadrons and two combined units. We are acting on the front from Kursk to Dzhankoi. Our brigade uses 10 types of drones», as reported Sablin.

In February 2023, Sablin reported that his unit destroyed 621 targets and it has been confirmed by video footage. Destroyed targets included 27 M777 howitzers. In one year, number of destroyed targets doubled. General Sevretary of «United Russia» Andrei Turchak told that the brigade destroyed four HIMARS and two Ukrainian helicopters. The brigade made 13 thousand flights. One third of them were effective.

Despite astonishing results, reported by Turchak, «GROM «Kaskad» does not like publishing video footage of its effectiveness.

There was no confirmation of the destruction of four HIMARS. More to that, ORYX project, verifying destruction and damaging of military equipment of both sides of international war conflict, confirmed the destruction of only one HIMARS multiple rocket launcher.

Ukrainian military analysts reported that Russians published confirmation of destruction of one M142 HIMARS on March 5, 2024. It should be also mentioned that no other Russian military unit reported about destruction of HIMARS. It is widely believed that HIMARS was hit by «Kaskad».

On March 12, 2023, Dmitrii Sablin published the first video footage of hitting M777 howitzer. He wrote: «minus another American M-777, identified by us near Svatovo-Kreminna».

Russian occupants regularly present their strikes on civilian objects as military targets, even when victims among civilians are confirmed by video and photos. «GROM «Kaskad» follows this approach.

On January 9, 2023, Dmitrii Sablin published two photos from drones with a text: «For Makiivka. Today’s strike on location of Ukrainian troops in Kurakhivka». It means that unit of BARS «Kaskad» pointed targets in Kurakhivka for the Russian artillery.

Дмітрій Саблін хвалиться обстрілом цивільних об’єктів у Курахівці Фото:Telegram 2023

Left – Dmitrii Sablin is proud of hitting civilian objects in Kurakhivka. Photo: Telegram 2023. Right – results of shelling in Kurakhivka. Photo: Donetsk Oblast Military Administration

Russian occupants launched massive shelling of settlements in Donetsk region on that day, including Kurakhivka and Kostyantynivka. Results of the shelling were as follows: two residents of Kurakhivka were wounded, two dozens of private households were damaged; one car was burnt.

There are a lot of discrepancies in reports about «GROM «Kaskad». On August 27, 2023, «Russia Today» published video showing how the crew of «GROM «Kaskad» destroyed Panzerhaubitze 2000 by drone «Lancet-52».

Dmitrii Sablin showed the cover of the shell, with date and name of target destroyed – August 25, PzH 2000.

However, press center of Russian Group «East» reported that Soviet howitzer «Gvozdika», not PzH 2000, was hit on that date by «Lancet». 

Чохол від “Ланцета” в руках Дмітрія Сабліна із вказаною ціллю, яку  нібито було знищено - PzH 2000 Фото:Telegram 2023

Cover of «Lancet» in hands of Dmitrii Sablin, with target destroyed (PzH 2000). Photo: Telegram 20232023

On the other hand, some reports do coincide. Dmitrii Sablii reported that HIMARS hit the headquarters of «GROM «Kaskad» on May 31, 2023.

«HIMARS rockets hit headquarters of the brigade on May 31, 2023. Unfortunately, we lost six persons. But it did not influence the combat capability of the brigade», as told Dmitrii Sablin.

As Russian occupation media reported, the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit «construction field and poultry farm» by four HIMARS rockets in Karpaty village in Luhansk oblast on that day. Five «construction workers» were killed and 19 people were wounded. As we see, number of killed persons is close to Sablin’s data about losses after the hit on headquarters of his brigade.

Location of the 128th assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit by Russian rocket «Iskander-M», 03.11. 2023. Photo: screenshot of video on telegram channel of Oleg Kolesnikov

Everybody knows abou the following result of rocket strike directed by crew of the 2nd battalion of «GROM «Kaskad». In November 2023, dozens of soldiers of the 128th assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukrain were killed and wounded at the awarding ceremony.

Politicians as commanders of «Kaskad» units

Russian telegram channel «ВЧК-ОГПУ» treats BARS «Kaskad» as the unit for Russian parliamentarians who would like to receive «the status of participant of special military operation». The unit is «for parliamentarians and children of public officials who would like to participate in the war but far away from the front line. It is easier to send other children to the war».

«Kaskad» is full of politicians and high rank officials. Besides Sablin, five members of the Russian State Dume voluntary joined «Kaskad»: Yevgenii Pervyshov, Oleg Golikov, Sergei Sokol, Dmitrii Khubezov and Oleg Kolesnikov. There are also members of legislative assemblies of Russian regions, two «parliamentarians of «Donetsk People’s Republic» and a lot of public officials.

Some of them have served minimum term of three months. Other people served several terms. Many politicians made short visits to «Kaskad». It is interesting that Russian media «The Insider» found that commander of «Kaskad» Dmitrii Sablin relaxed in Turkish resort areas.

«GROM «Kaskad» does not disclose names of commanders, officers of headquarters and commanders of crews. One possible reason is that «Kaskad» is subordinated to the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Our Center identified commanders and drone operators in open sources – publications in Russian media and social media. Personal data of some commanders of crews was introduced into «Myrotvorets» database.

Current investigation focuses on commanders of BARS \ brigade «GROM «Kaskad» and recepients of Russian state awards. 

Олєг Колєсніков, командир 2-го батальойну бригади “ГРОМ “Каскад” Фото:ВК 2024

Oleg Kolesnikov, commander of the 2nd battalion of brigade «GROM «Kaskad». Photo: VK 2024

Major Oleg Alekseevich Kolesnikov is the commander of the 2nd reconnaissance attack battalion of brigade «GROM «Kaskad». He is the member of the Russian State Duma (for the fourth time in a row) and millionaire from Chelyabinsk region of Russia. 54 years old Kolesnikov has fought against Ukraine since October 2022. He received three time permission from Putin to prolong his contract with the Russian Army.

Since the end of 2022, this unit of «Kaskad» has fought in Donbas. Later its crews have fought in Zaporizhzhia oblast as part of the 58th Army of the Russian Armed Forces (when «Kaskad» has been just ordinary unit of BARS) and the 76th brigade of paratroopers. Crews of «Kaskad» identified targets and directed the artillery of the 76th brigade.

In March 2023, Sergei Kirienko, the First Deputy Head of the Administration of President of Russia, brought «humanitarian aid» to «Kaskad». Kolesnikov proudly announced that despite unfavorable weather his crews stopped Ukrainian breakthrough near Orekhiv: «only our crews flew from the 58th Army».

In May 2023, Kolesnikov published his self-video at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station and informed that his unit conducted reconnaissance of the territory around the station.

«Only our «birds» can monitor any movements of Ukrainians and transfer this information online», as wrote Kolesnkiov in social media. As it was reported many times, Russian troops have launched drones from the territory of nuclear station to the right bank of Dnipro as Russians were aware that Ukrainians troops would not target the station.

In November 2023, Kolesnikov reported that his unit identified the location of the awarding ceremony of the 128th assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and directed strikes of Russian rockets «Iskander».

Олєг Колєсніков, командир батальону бригади ГРОМ “Каскад” (зліва) і  голова Держдуми РФ В’ячеслав Володін після вручення ордену мужності. Жовтень 2023 р., ФОТО: соцмережі

Oleg Kolesnikov, commander of battalion of brigade «GROM «Kaskad» (left) and Vyacheslav Volodin, the Head of the Russian State Duma, at awarding ceremony. October 2023. Photo: social media

Residents of Zaporizhzhia should know that Russian «high precision strikes» on the city have been the result of work of «GROM «Kaskad». Its drone operators have conducted 24\7 reconnaissance over the city at high altitude. In his interview, Kolesnikov told the following story:

«When we came here at the end of November and started flying above Zaporizhzhia, our troops did not believe it was possible. They could not understand how we avoided Ukrainian devices of electronic warfare. We managed to do it».

It seems that Kolesnikov suggested Russian war propagandist Semyon Pegov to disseminate a legend about the role of BARS «Kaskad» in thwarting Ukrainian counteroffensive in summer 2023. As Pegov reported, crews of «Kaskad» identified several columns of Ukrainian troops near Robotyne and then directed Russian artillery to strike them. Dmitrii Sablin told that reconnaissance drones of «Kaskad» identified preparation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive five hours before the movement of columns

Another unit of BARS «Kaskad», including several drone crews, has been attached to the so-called 2nd corps of «people’s militia of LNR». Later, it has been included into the 8th Army of the Russian Armed Forces.

The commander of this unit has been Pervyshov Yevgenii Alekseevich (call sign «Kuban»), member of the Russian State Duma. Before his election to the Duma, he has been the Mayor of Krasnodar. In October 2022, he signed contract with the Russian Armed Forces, was trained in Rostov and sent to BARS «Kaskad». 

Євгєній Пєрвишов, депутат Держдуми РФ, командир підрозділу ГРОМ “Каскад” , 2023 рік. Фото: РГ

Yevgenii Pervyshov, member of the Russian State Duma, commander of unit of «GROM «Kaskad», 2023. Photo: RG

«I mastered equipment relatively quickly. I worked as technician and operator. After I acquired an experience, I was appointed to manage the crew. Then, I was sent to defend and serve in Luhansk People’s Republic. I am very proud», as told Yevgenii Pervyshov.

Russian media demonstrate how Pervyshev launches drones «Supercam» and «Orlan». Luhansk unit of «Kaskad» has also many other types of Russian drones. «We have new models of quadro-, hexa- and octa-copter types, small and large. Everything depends upon tasks», as says Pervyshev.

Командувач групи військ “Центр” Андрєй Мордвічєв вручає орден Мужності орден Мужності Євгєнію Пєрвишеву. 2023 рік, Фото: соцмережі

Commander of Group «Center» Andrei Mordvichev (right) awards the Order of Courage to Yevgenii Pervyshov, 2023. Photo: social media

In August 2023, Pervyshov prolonged his contract with the Russian Armed Forces. He was awarded the Order of Courage and medal of «Luhansk People’s Republic». This medal was awarded to him and other soldiers of «Kaskad» by commander of «the 2nd Army Corps of Luhansk People’s Republic» Esedulla Abachev.

Our Center identified current commander of the company of «GROM «Kaskad» in Luhansk oblast. He is Pavel Igorevich Artemjev. He worked in the Ministry of Transport of Krasnodar krai. He has been volunteer of Russian fund «Kindness and action», headed by his wife Anna Artemjeva, and brought «humanitarian aid» to the front.

This public official voluntary signed military contract in May 2023. It is likely that his company is located near Lysychansk in Luhansk oblast where Artemjev participated in the «elections of Putin».

Павєл Артємьєв, командир роти бригади “ГРОМ “Каскад”, район Лисичанська, 2024 рік. Фото: соцмережі

Pavel Artemjev, commander of company of «GROM «Kaskad» brigade, near Lysychansk, 2024. Photo: social media

It should be noted that «humanitarian aid» for the unit of «GROM «Kaskad», located in Rubizhne, was collected in the church of the Russian city of Garjachiy Kluch in Krasnodar krai.

Lieutenant Pavlov Nikolai Viktorovich (call sign «Pers») has been commander of the company since October 2023. Before the Russian aggression against Ukraine, he has been businessman (he registered a number of family companies on car leasing).

Retired Major Sokol Sergei Mikhailovich, call sign «Black», member of the Russian State Duma, has been commander of reconnaissance unit of BARS «Kaskad» since October 2022 until April 2023. The unit fought in Donetsk oblast.

55 years old Sokol was born in Sevastopol in the family of officer of the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate. His father has worked under diplomatic cover abroad. Sokol graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He worked in the Russian Embassy in Equador, in Russian companies «Norilskgazprom» and «Rostech» and then moved to politics. He has been Deputy Governor of Krasnoyarsk krai, Head of the Legislative Assembly of Irkutsk oblast. In 2020, he was elected to the Russian State Duma from Putin’s political party «United Russia».

Sergei Sokol, politician, former commander of air reconnaissance unit of «Kaskad». Photo: Telegram 2023

Sergei Skol told in his interviews that his unit acted far away from the frontline – up to 50 kilometers away. He called Kostyantynivka very difficult territory for flights: «Ukrainians brought in there serious forces. There were HIMARS batteries there, serious air defence. If you got there, it was difficult to get out», as told Sokol.

What objects did Russian occupants hit in Kostyantynivka when Sergei Sokol headed reconnaissance unit of «Kaskad»?

On January 24, 2023, residential complex of Kostyantynivka was hit by Russian occupants. Russian rocket targeted multi-floor building: four residents were wounded; two of them were children; a number of apartments were damaged.

On January 28, 2023, Russian rockets S-300 targeted the center of the city: three civilians were killed, 14 people were wounded; multi-floor buildings, hotel, garages and cars were damaged.

On March 24, 2023, Kostyantynivka was attacked by a number of Russian rockets. One rocket hit the «point of invincibility» with refugees from Bakhmut and Chasiv Yar. Three women were killed; two wounded men were rescued.

Center for refugees in Kostyantynivka, ruined by Russian rocket. March 24, 2023. Photo: Suspilne Donbas

On April 2, 2023, Russian troops hit the center of Kostyantynivka two times by rockets of S-300 and four times by rockets of «Uragan». Six people were killed, 11 people were wounded. 11 private households and 15 multi-floor buildings, kindergarten, three cars and gas line were damaged.

Outcomes of Russian strike in Kostyantynivka, 02.04.2023. Photo: t.me/pavlokyrylenko_donoda

Putin awarded Sokol with the Order of Courage by the end of Sokol’s second military contract. Then, he has been elected as the Head of Supreme Council of Khakassia. He visits occupied territories of Ukraine and collects «humanitarian aid» for Russian occupation troops.

55 years old Golikov Oleg Aleksandrovich, call sign «Veshy», is another member of the Russian State Duma from Chelyabinsk oblast. Before his parliamentary career, he has worked as Deputy Director of R & D unit within «Rosatom» corporation. He has been elected four times as member of the Legislative Assemble of Chelyabinsk oblast. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, he brought «humanitarian aid» to Russian troops and escorted foreign «observers» at fake referendums in Donbas.

His military career started in so-called «regiment of marines of Donetsk People’s Republic «Apostle». The regiment has been commanded by Yuri Gagarin (call sign «Angel»), businessman from Chelyabinsk. Then, Golikov moved to BARS «Kaskad» where he headed one of air reconnaissance units. He fought near Kreminna.

Oleg Golikov (right) and Andrei Turchak after awarding the Order of Courage. April 2023. Photo: Telegram

Having served two contracts (three months each), Golikov returned to the work in the Russian State Duma and propagandist activity for teenagers and youth. He launched his own TV project within which he takes interviews with participants of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

51 years old Ukrainian citizen Baevsky Andrii Vasylyovych, call sign «Indus», Police Colonel and member of «partliament» of so-called «Donetsk People’s Republic», is another commander of «Kaskad» units. He was born in Donetsk. He has fought against Ukraine since 2014. He is the commander of remote air reconnaissance unit within «Kaskad». It is presented by Russian propagandists as the best in brigade. It is located near Donetsk.

Andrii Baevsky, commander of the unit of «GROM «Kaskad». Photo: screenshot of Rutube WarGonzo

Baevsky says his unit works without interruption – when one drone lands, another one takes off. Reconnaissance is conducted for distances of 50-70 kilometers in the rear of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Baevsky’s drones are looking for artillery systems.

Oleksandr Bykadorov, commander of the crew of «GROM «Kaskad». Photo: rutube.ru 2024

38 years old Ukrainian citizen Bykadorov Oleksandr Viktorovych (call sign «Lawyer») is yet another commander from so-called «Donetsk People’s Republic». He is also a member of «parliament of DNR».

Since 2014 he has fought within illegal military unit «Oplot» and has been the commander of guards of «head of DNR» Oleksandr Zakharchenko. He has fought under Dmitrii Sablin since 2022.

Violetta (Zhbanova) Piskunova, deputy head of communications of «GROM «Kaskad». Photo: rutube.ru 2024

Russian citizen Piskunova (Zhbanova) Violetta Vyacheslavovna is, perhaps, the only female commander in «GROM «Kaskad». She graduated from Military Academy of Communications named after Budyonny in Sankt-Petersburg. She is Senior Lieutenant and Deputy Commander of Communications of the brigade. She has been present at the awarding ceremony when so-called «head of DNR» Denis Pushylin gave «medals of DNR» to soldiers of «Kaskad».

There are a number of members of the Russian State Duma who became volunteers of «GROM «Kaskad» but did not deal with drones.

Dmitrii Khubezov. Photo: er.ru

For example, 52 years old Dmitrii Anatoljevich Khubezov, Lieutenant of medical service, PhD in medicine, retired from his position as the Head of Committee on Health Care Issues of the Russian State Duma in 2023 ater he signed contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense. He coordinated doctors-volunteers and even made surgery of Russian wounded soldiers in the field hospital in Luhansk oblast. Then, he joined «Kaskad».

In March 2024, Andrei Turchak informed that Khubezov continued his contract service and that he was awared «medal of DNR» «For Courage». In April 2024, Dmitrii Khubezov appeared in Saransk – he conducted field training of 40 soldiers within pilot project of tactical medicine.

Relatives of politicians, cosmonaut and managers of Sablin’s businesses

As his father, Leonid Dmitrievich Khubezov is the surgeon. After the beginning of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, in March 2022, he came with his father to the hospital in Luhansk oblast. As volunteer, he signed contract with BARS «Kaskad» and made surgery in the field hospital.

He recalled in his interview that over 260 wounded Russian soldiers were brought to hospital daily during the assault of Bakhmut.

Leonid Khubezov, doctor in «GROM «Kaskad» brigade, 2023. Photo: dzen.ru

We mentioned son of Dmitrii Sablin – Anton Dmitrievich Sablin – in the first part of our investigation. Coordinator of «Volunteer company» of «Combat brotherhood» and employed by his father’s firm «Troy», Anton Sablin became the member of Novo-Peredelkino City Council in 2022. This city is located near Moscow. Russian social media suggested that the son of Russian «parliamentarian-hawk» Sablin hid from conscription \ mobilization by joining the City Council (its members are exempted from conscription).

However, Anton Sablin voluntary joined BARS «Kaskad». He served only three months and returned to his leisure life of the son of powerfull father-politican.

Anton Sablin and Dmitrii Sablin, 2023. Photo: youtube.com

Anton Sablin and his friends from «Volunteer company» of «Combat brotherhood» were known for their actions, close to war crimes, before they came to «Kaskad». In March 2022, following Russian invaders, they came to occupied Ukrainian cities «to rescue civilians» from humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Russian Army. We will tell about participation of volunteers from «Combat brotherhood» and Russian political party «United Russia» in «filtration» and deportation of Mariupol inhabitants in separate material.

Lena Kolesnikova, member of the Legislative Assembly of Chelyabinsk region, volunteer in the Russian war against Ukraine. Photo: VK 2024

The photo presents Kolesnikova Lena Rafikovna, wife of Oleg Kolesnikov, above mentioned member of the Russian State Duma. She is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Chelyabinsk oblast, manager of family business and coordinator of local congress of ethnic Tatars.

In February 2024, she signed contract to participate in the «special military operation». On the other hand, she keeps collecting contributions for the Russian Armed Forces, in particular, for the procurement of drones.

She is the member of unit called «BARS-32» or «battalion named after Sudoplatov». It is maintained by Yevhen Balytsky, Russian «governor» of occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region. It is also used by Russian politicians and public officials to obtain the «status of participant of special military operation».

There are a lot of persons with high media visilbility in «GROM «Kaskad».

For example, there is a Russian cosmonaut Tarelkin Yevgenii Igorevich, acting Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

In 2012, he made his space flight within international team. He spent 143 days together with American astronaut Ford in the space.

Since 2022, he has fought against Ukraine. As Sablin told, Tarelkin is the commander of one crew: «Zhenya Tarelkin is among the best not only in the space but also in «GROM «Kaskad».

Russian cosmonaut and participant of the Russian aggression against Ukraine Yevgenii Tarelkin. Photo: RIA Novosti and t.me/Денис Пушилин

We were able to identify a number of people with less media visibility.

One of them is Nastuev Rashyd Vladimirovich, retired Colonel and Deputy Head of Veterans’ non-profit «Combat brotherhood». He has served in anti-terrorist units of the Russian Federal Security Service for 23 years. He received a lot of orders and medals. He participated in the war in Syria.

According to «Myrotvorets» database, Nastuev is Deputy Commander of platoon in «Kaskad».

Rashyd Nastuev (left), retired Colonel of the Russian Federal Security Service, within «GROM «Kaskad» brigade, 2023. Photo: сnd.ru 

In 2022, Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine published a list of personnel of the Russian Federal Security Service who were involved into illegal activity on the territory of Europe. Rashyd Nastuev has been included into this list.

In 2023, Ukraine imposed sanctions on Rashyd Nastuev for 10 years.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Ranzhev is the old friend of Dmitrii Sablin. His current position in «Kaskad» is unclear. He co-organized «AntiMaidan» with Sablin and then became manager of his business empire.

According to the Russian State Register of Legal Entities, Ranzhev has been General Director of security company in Sablin’s business group «ROTA» (we mentioned it at the beginning of our investigation).

Vladimir Ranzhev (third right) with Senator Andrei Turchak (center) and commanders of «Kaskad» crews. Photo: social media

Vladimir Ranzhev is co-founder of sports shooting club «Planeta vystrel». Fomin Aleksei Sergeevich has been his business partner.

In 2015, Aleksei Fomin participated in the Victory Parade, together with «Combat brotherhood», and supported AntiMaidan created by Sablin.

After Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine, Fomin has brought «humanitarian aid» to Russian troops on occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region. Then, he joined BARS «Kaskad».

Tomb of Aleksei Fomin, soldier of «GROM Kaskad» brigade, 2024. Photo: Telegram

We found photo of funerals of Fomin in social media of Dmitrii Sablin. «We buried our combat comrade. He was killed in Kherson region. Aleksei, «GROM «Kaskad» and «Combat brotherhood» will not leave your relatives alone… It is so sorry to bury younger people», as wrote Dmitrii Sablin.

To be continued